Since the last century, I have been explaining to clients that there is more nonsense written on the internet about search engines than any other subject. And in recent years, this has extended to the search facility on the Airbnb website. There is so much ‘advice’ out there that is completely erroneous.
Really, there are no ‘secrets’. Search engines, including the Airbnb search, are really quite simple. They are logical. They are, after all, computer programs.
Some of the pointers that you’ll see on many articles on the internet include:
- Log in frequently
- Have professional, watermarked photographs
- Respond quickly to enquiries
- Update your calendar often
Are these factors (and others) correct? Well, first let’s look at a few facts.
At time of writing the Airbnb site tells us that there are 3 million listings. That’s a hell of a lot. I’m sure you’ve searched your own area and it may well be that if you’re in a remote area you have little competition, But in popular locations, there are going to be thousands, if not tens of thousands, of listings and you’re all in competition.
The question is, why should the Airbnb search facility show your listing high in the search results?
It’s important to remember that all search engines have one important factor in common – they want to return only relevant results to the searcher. To use a simple example, if I search Google for ‘pizza takeout’ it’s going to show me results in my locality – showing me pizza places in New York or Montreal is no good at all.
Once we have understood this simple concept then it’s easier to see how the Airbnb search works.
Let’s face it, Airbnb doesn’t care about your listing. Airbnb’s goal is to get potential guests to book. As a company, it doesn’t matter whether a potential guest books with you or with the people down the street. Therefore, the search facility is going to show the listings that best meet the potential guest’s needs.
Of course, most guests will, when searching, add specific dates plus other amenities they are looking for such as a whole apartment, pet-friendly, etc. and if your listing covers those parameters, you’ll be there. Don’t forget that the majority of guests search this way.
SO, WHAT ARE THE FACTORS THAT HELP YOUR LISTING COME UP WELL IN AN AIRBNB SEARCH?
When Airbnb has a potential guest on the site, the last worst thing that could happen is that the guest clicks away and goes to another site. Airbnb wants bookings. Are you making it easy for potential guests to book with you?
Until Airbnb came along, travellers were accustomed to finding their desired accommodation online, entering their credit card details and job done – booked. On Airbnb though some hosts make guests jump through hoops and want to have a ‘conversation’ to make sure that the guest is a good fit.
And of course, there’s nothing wrong with that – especially if the accommodation a host offers is in his/her own home. But it does mean that these hosts are not making it easy for the guest to book.
Airbnb also wants guests to feel confident about their hosts. This means that if a host has cancelled bookings (with no extenuating circumstances) they are going to find that their listing slips in the search results as they cannot be ‘trusted’ to keep their commitment to the guest.
The same applies to the host who has often declined guests or who takes too long to respond to enquiries. These too make sense. Declining a guest is not ‘making it easy’. And as for the latter, the logic is that if the host can’t be bothered to respond quickly to an enquiry about future business, would the guest also have to wait a long time if they contacted the host with an issue during their stay?
Reviews too make an enormous difference. If the potential guest can read many positive reviews of five-star stays, this gives the guests more confidence when they are booking.
Airbnb prefers hosts who have a certain amount of commitment to the site. If a host regularly blocks chunks of days, is this because they are also using other booking websites? I know of one listing that was blocked off for two months and then completely disappeared from searches, even when searching for months in advance of the blocked dates.
MAKE IT EASY FOR GUESTS TO BOOK WITH YOU
Airbnb suggests the following:
- Use high-quality photographs (not necessarily from an Airbnb photographer) and work towards getting great reviews and five stars
- Respond quickly to enquiries, do not decline too many requests and do not cancel (unless there are extenuating circumstances)
- Many hosts hate Instant Book. That is the facility whereby guests can book without all the back-and-forth messages to get the host’s approval. But although hosts like to ‘vet’ guests, there’s no doubt that Instant Book does make it easy for guests.
Just make it easy.
JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.